Lead us not…


Who’s Your Cheerleader…

The standard of what we call fitness has become skewed and distorted. Priorities are misguided, leadership lacks, and followers are not blind so much as they are just subject to a necessary yet almost random faith in an increasingly complex subculture which, in my opinion, is headed in the wrong direction and does not need to be so complex.

I don’t recall where I was or what I was doing when the screaming trainers of reality TV, CrossFit, and Navy Seals became the leading spokespeople for the fitness industry. Respectfully, I get that reality fitness shows may inspire people, CrossFit looks cool, and Navy Seals are good at killing bad guys in difficult situations.

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None of these though, and I mean this emphatically, are helping people who are truly in need of improved fitness, the way those people need to be helped. Nor do I believe they represent sustainable fitness values. They better represent good marketeering, confusion, and conflicting information.

Most people who seek improved physicality need three things in order to achieve change:

1 – A relatable cheerleader

2 – A basic understanding of just a few principles of movement and eating

3 – A schedule of movement and eating to adhere to

When assembled, these three things can serve many more, far more, than a stellar WOD, some bitchin’ before and after pictures, or a screaming trainer in an unsustainable boot-camp workout. Not that anyone is in compliance with these for the long-term anyway, but that’s my point.

It just seems that people are placing their fitness faith on all the wrong shoulders, all the while overlooking some simple principles and not-so-difficult decisions that are much more useful for changing their physicality than the trends, promises, and good marketeering that dominate the fitness culture of today.

From Confucius to confuse us…

It is a 3,000 year old Confucian ideal that we have a responsibility to take care of ourselves on behalf of our families, our employers, and our communities. Society simply functions more efficiently and at a higher level that way. Relinquish our physicality as a collective, and things begin breaking down proportionately as a society.

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This in no way is me being judgmental of those who have lost or decreased their physicality. A quick glance of our culture though, will quickly illuminate a growing disparity. We just have an increasing segment of the population on their way the gym for an unsustainable workout screaming, go big or go home! Yet we have another increasing segment of the population eating moon pies, shooting insulin, and looking for a way out of those behaviors, but looking primarily to the go big or go home set for inspiration. The middle class of fitness is disappearing.

Buddhabuilding: The Middle Path…

At times I have been guilty at being extreme with my personal fitness. Rarely though, unless requested and paid appropriately, have I ever preached or led a client down an extreme or unsustainable exercise path. One of the things that attracted me to the ideal of recreational bodybuilding to begin with is that it’s an old person’s endeavor. Strength training can enhance a quality of life, while also prolonging it, though I see few people or entities teaching strength in moderation these days.

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I would love to see those who don’t exercise do more of it, and eat a little better. I truly believe that would serve our society better. I would also like to see those who lead do a little less screaming, a little less boasting, and be a little more mindful of their leadership. And for those who truly are seeking leadership to help motivate and improve their fitness, I beg you, please let sustainability be the cornerstone term in your search. Be well. rc

Please take a moment to scroll up and rate this essay. Thank you.

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Please check back in a few weeks to see what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this Prine cover from Stu Larsen and The Once. Enjoy…

12 responses

  1. sustainability is KEY! Over the last 6 months, I’ve lost a minimal 13 lbs by today’s societal success standards (or so I gave up my home scale), my clothes size the same, still considered obese but the best numbers down……my glucose. 108 in December, pre-diabetic….. 2 weeks ago…. 96 which I can only base on… 3 factors
    1 – A relatable cheerleader —— to get me started,
    2 – A basic understanding of just a few principles of movement and eating —learning this helped me see the similarity of yoga and the practice of mastering form in “recreational bodybuilding”
    3 – A schedule of movement and eating to adhere to…….this is as easy as “at least 15 minutes” it keeps my schedule on track….some days its only 15 minutes a few times during the day but I always show up for me and THAT is a good thing…
    wise man….many more need to listen….

    • It should be no shock, young Julie, that you, as well as our conversations, are largely responsible for this article. Pivotal, and I mean PIVOTAL, were our conversations earlier this year. Really made think long and hard about how I would continue on this path. Win/win for each of us. Thank you!

  2. Corey and I just had a conversation of a sustained,consistent lifestyle. The choices and changes we make in our lives. Surrounding our selves with positive people helps as well…Thank You My Brother….

  3. I think sometimes that unspoken association of “jock” with “bully” (which I tend to think myself, even though I know it’s wrong in many situations) is part of why screaming bullies are promoted as fitness specialists. That’s the not-too-athletically-gifted majority of people’s memory of the last time they were forced to be physical — getting bullied in gym class. So when reality show producers have casting calls for “trainers” for their shows, that’s what they (and the heavy people on the show) think a trainer is, so that’s who gets hired.

    And like you say, it’s not correct and it’s not sustainable. The screaming bullies never made any nerdy weakling want to be good at gym class. They just made us want to get the hell out of the gym. Unfortunately, it also convinced us that the simple pleasure of getting up and getting the blood moving was not for us … not if we wanted to stay safe.

    It’s just such a shame to see people recreate bad memories because they don’t know any different. People seriously cannot even imagine a friendly, supportive, low-stress athletic environment. But anyone can get up and move, absolutely anyone. Physical activity is for ALL of us, nerds and weaklings included. We have bodies, too — and we have a right to move them.

    Sorry for the verbosity from a lurker. 🙂 It’s just the elephant in the living room of athletic outreach, and one that I don’t think enough people talk about.

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